Wodi, Herbert Nyemahame Amadi
In his exemplary lifetime, the Reverend Herbert Amadi Wodi not only contributed personally to the overall development of the church of the Nigeria Anglican Communion, but he also used his extensive contacts to draw attention to his hometown of Rumuigbo in present day Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. He was a pioneer educationist and leader of thought, who exhibited unalloyed zeal for community and spiritual development. His choice of missionary life was in great contrast to his family background rooted in idol worship.
He was born in 1909 to Chief Amadi Wodi of Nkpolu-Rumuigbo in present day Obio/Akpor Local Govemment Area of Rivers State. A remarkable aspect of Wodi’s story was the fact that he lost both parents at a very tender age, and was subsequently left with no certain future at the time. He was, in fact, abandoned on his mother’s grave to die among his kinsmen noted for juju worship.
Despite the uncertainties in his early life “H. N.,” as he was fondly called, completed his primary education and was first deployed to Rumuoparaeli by the Anglican Church as a school teacher and church superintendent. This assignment reflected the Anglican Church’s multi-disciplinary approach to missionary training in those days. Shortly thereafter, he met and married his wife and friend Mrs. Esther O. Wodi. Of all their children, eight are still living.
From Rumuoparaeli, the young Wodi or “Teacher” was transferred to the Ogoni heartland to pioneer in the planting of churches and primary schools at a time when Western education and Christianity were not easy to spread among suspicious natives. Pupils had to be forcefully taken to school while evangelists needed to apply extreme tact and powers of persuasion to convince reluctant villagers to embrace Christianity.
Having honorably fulfilled his dual mandate in Ogoni Land, Wodi was transferred to Ogbodo in Isiokpo (Ikwerre Local Government Area) from whence he moved to Agba Ndele within the same locality to continue his exciting missionary journey.
While Wodi was enjoying his exceptional career winning souls for Jesus Christ, the devil devised a plot to divert his attention from his divine ordination as a fisher of men. He got an unholy inspiration to leave the ministry of God for the thriving business world that apparently offered an immediate solution to his meager missionary stipend. This incident was a watershed in his career as the good Lord had other plans for him.
While trading in yams, oil and palm kernels, Wodi had an experience akin to Saul’s encounter on the road to Damascus. Around 1958 he was involved in a near fatal motor accident. According to him, he made a miraculous recovery from the accident and was still bent on returning to the lucrative business world. However, he had a dream in which he was rebuked and instructed to return to his missionary work. And so he did.
The church leaders were naturally very pleased to have him back and he was promptly posted to Ibulia Dikibo church and later to Iwoma Amadi and George Ama,–all in present day Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State. He was later redeployed to Igwenga.
Despite his phenomenal success in the employment of the church, Wodi still had a burning desire to fulfill his life-long ambition of obtaining a better education. His dream was fulfilled in 1964 when he gained admission into the prestigious St. Paul’s College, Awka, in present day Anambra state. His wife, Mrs. Esther Wodi, equally enrolled at the Women’s Development Centre-Amanwanyi, a few kilometers away from St. Paul’s. Upon successful completion of the course, Wodi was given greater responsibility in the church.
In 1974, Rev. Wodi was again recommended to be trained as a priest. He completed the prescribed course of study and was ordained a deacon and later confirmed full priest in 1975. In recognition of his rising status among his peers, Rev. Wodi was posted to shepherd St. Andrew’s church, Diobu, a sophisticated urban church with three sessions,–namely English, Native and Nembe. At St. Andrew’s, he restarted construction work on the church with a seating capacity of five thousand that had previously been abandoned.
In 1977, Rev. Wodi was posted to take charge and rebuild the church at Omudioga in Ikwerre Local Government Area. He was later transferred to become head of Holy Trinity Church, Ibaa in 1979. There, he took ill and was granted a leave of absence for treatment in Port Harcourt. He returned to his hometown of Rumuigbo when it became regrettably apparent that illness would prematurely interrupt his missionary career. He died peacefully on May 18th, 1985 at the age of 75.
In his lifetime, the burning urge to spread the gospel of Christ also took Rev. Wodi to Oduoha-Ogbakiri in present day Emohua Local Government Area, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Diobu, and St. Barnabas’s Church, Elekahia,–both in present day Port Harcourt Local Government Area–and St. Michael’s Church, Rumuomasi in present day Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. In addition, he was recognized by the Diocese of the Niger Delta North with canon status at the Cathedral Church, Diobu, PHC.
The story of Herbert Amadi Wodi, a devout Christian and church leader, father and a family man, friend and reputed educationist and community leader should be the subject of a full-length book. He is survived by his children: Mr. Joseph Wodi, on the staff of Community Secondary School, Rumuapara; Mrs. Dorathy Wodi, community health nurse, Niger Hospital, P.H.; Dr. Ben Wodi, associate professor of Epidemiology, State University, Cortland, New York, U.S.A.; Mr. Sam Wodi, engineer, lecturer, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt; Mr. Johnson Wodi, lecturer, Rivers State College of Arts and Science Port Harcourt; Mr. Williams Wodi, public relations officer, University of Port Harcourt; Mrs. Margaret Ikwuegbu, teacher, Community Primary School, Rumuapara; Mrs. Elizabeth Wike, on the staff of Rivers State College of Education, Port Harcourt; fifteen grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
May his kind and gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Lord. Amen.
*Let saints on earth in concert sing
with those whose work is done.*
This article, written by Sam Wodi, son of Herbert Amadi Wodi, was submitted in 2003 by Sam Wodi to Dr. Jonathan Bonk during his 2003 DACB trip to Nigeria.